SELMA - There will be no Valley championship for Selma baseball this year.
In the first round of the Central Section Division III playoffs, the top-seeded Selma Bears were eliminated after a 4-1 upset loss to No. 16 Templeton (7-16-1, 2-10 ML) at Allen Cropsey Diamond at Bobby Cox Field on May 8.
It’s the second straight season that the Bears suffered a first round upset by a double-digit seed. It was also the third consecutive year that the team was one-and-done in the playoffs.
Even though Selma (22-5, 10-2 CSL) won’t play for a Valley championship, it was a season of accomplishments for the Bears. Selma won it’s second-straight Central Sequoia League championship and earned the second most wins in a season under head coach John Hollett.
“It was a great year,” Hollett said. “22 wins and five losses? Shoot…... Back in the beginning of the year, we had an idea of what this team was going to be like. We wanted to compete for a league championship, but we not only competed for a league championship, we beat the co-champion [Immanuel] three times.”
According to MaxPreps, the Bears 22-win season is the second most victories under Hollett. The most games Selma has won under Hollett was 25, which was accomplished in back-to-back seasons in 2006-07. Since 2005, the program has had seven 20-win seasons including this year.
“It was a very successful season,” Hollett said. “I felt like our boys really played together with a team first focus.”
The Bears didn’t score it’s run until the seventh inning and had trouble getting on base against Eagles starter Justice Gibbons. Selma was held hitless from the second through fourth innings and left several baserunners in the fifth and sixth. The Bears had a total of eight hits against Gibbons.
“They came to play,” Bears pitcher/first baseman Ethan Wenter said. “Their pitcher, he’s a great pitcher. He came out and he shoved. He did a great job. He was able to hit his spots and in tough situations he was able to get out of them.”
Wenter, a senior, threw 5 ⅔ innings in his final high school start. On the mound, Wenter had eight strikeouts (two dropped-third strikes) and allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks. As a batter, Wenter was 2-for-4 with a triple and single.
“It’s just baseball,” Wenter said about the loss. “You never know who’s going to win or lose. Anybody could win at any time. I had a lot of great memories on this field, but that’s just life. You’re going to have a lot of ups and downs. I’m looking forward to what the next level is for me.”
As a pitcher this season, Wenter had a 6-1 record with an earned run average (ERA) of 1.22. He led the team in innings pitched (63) and strikeouts (59). At the plate, Wenter batted a .349 average (second on the team) with 13 RBIs and a team-high of four triples.
After his final game at Allen Cropsey Diamond, Wenter described his senior season as “pure fun.”
Wenter said he plans to continue to play baseball at the next level as a recruited walk-on for Fresno Pacific. Wenter will be one of six departing seniors from this year’s team.
As for the returners, junior pitcher/first baseman Isaiah Gastelum is one player that can’t wait to get back on the diamond next season.
“I think next year we’ll be good with the sophomores coming up and the juniors and the freshman that we have already,” Gastelum said. “I think we’ll be solid for next year and next year we’ll be chasing a ring and a Valley title.”
Templeton gained a 2-0 advantage in the second inning with an RBI triple by Merek Hall and a sacrifice fly from Eli Bullard.
The Eagles added a run in each of the sixth and seventh innings. Noah Ortez scored the Bears run in the seventh inning after Eddie Avalos knocked him in with an RBI single.
“The season was great, no one thought we’ll be a one seed,” Gastelum said. “No one even thought we’ll be as good we were, but we just came out and played. We did our best, we came up short, but it is what it is.”
Selma was one of five teams in the division that was upset by a double-digit seed. Immanuel (No. 2 seed), Reedley (No. 5), Kerman (No. 7), and Mission Prep (No. 4) were the other teams that fell to lower seeded teams.
Four of the five lower seeded teams that won were from the Central Coast. The 2018-19 academic year was the first time that Central Coast schools competed in the Central Section in all sports.
As for as next season, preparation for Hollett has already started.
“Well, we’re going to have to get that…...we’ll start on that tomorrow,” Hollett said.